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Mobile Technology News, September 22, 2014

As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

  • Apple Releases iOS 8 Guides in iBooks

    With iOS 8 now out for everyone, Apple has now released their iOS 8 Guides for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.  These user guides are designed to help those who are new to iOS or seasoned veterans learn every nook and cranny of the latest version of iOS for their particular devices.  The guides are free and are available now in the iBooks Store. Each iOS 8 guide is specifically written for a particular device so there are three individual downloads for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.  Each guide is between 160-180 pages long so they aren’t huge downloads onto

    The post Apple Releases iOS 8 Guides in iBooks appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Apple’s Missed Opportunity with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite

    With the release of iOS 8 last week, Apple made some big improvements in their mobile OS.  Some of those improvements however really won’t see their fully glory until OS X Yosemite is out and available.  In my iOS 8 review I commented that having the two releases, which are very intertwined, at separate points was a bit of a head scratcher.  Now nearly a week after iOS 8, I’m more convinced it is a missed opportunity for Apple that has led to end user frustration and confusion.  I appreciate that OS X Yosemite might not be fully ready but

    The post Apple’s Missed Opportunity with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Briefly: Bluetooth blood pressure monitor, Pantera case for iPhone 6
    Pyle Audio has announced the introduction of its new Bluetooth Blood Pressure Monitor (PHBPB20). The monitor and its accompanying integrated app are designed to provide users pulse rate and systolic and diastolic pressures. Users insert their arm into the device’s sleeve, press the power button and allow the monitor to tighten and measure blood pressure. The monitor can store 99 blood pressure readings for each individual, and the large LCD display shows collected data.

  • VIDEO: Overcooked? The hi-tech smart pan
    The pan that aims to eliminate guesswork from cooking
  • Please Protect Me From My Password
    We live in a world that is surrounded by fear, by a bit of paranoia and maybe rightfully so. We have groups lopping people’s heads off and posting the videos online. There is the fear of your not so friendly neighbor invading your territory under the pretext of protection and the outbreak of new types of diseases and viruses that we didn’t know existed. Maybe a bit of paranoia (and caution) is not such a bad thing but sometimes we do take it to an extreme.

    In today’s day and age, with technology at our fingertips (quite literally) there has been a bit of an invasion of our personal space and our privacy. Some of it is by our choosing, some of it not so much. In either case, we have had to become a little more cautious about the kind of information we share. You wonder how safe and secure our information really is, even with the biggest and in the ‘safest’ of places (read Edward Snowden and the NSA leak). It is not uncommon to hear of credit card data being stolen (Home Depot recently reported its information being hacked and such data being stolen). Banks, retailers and corporates all have have all been guilty of that — or have they just been victims of circumstances?

    My credit card and bank details could be lost even if they are kept ‘securely’ with a bank or a large corporate that spends billions of dollars on corporate security (or at least I hope they do spend some decent amount of money on it). But aren’t they the ones that have zillions of passwords and keys that are needed to login to access these details? Then, how is it, I wonder that a hacker is easily able to penetrate this level of detail.

    This security and password protection has achieved another level of sophistication [and possibly silliness] at some institutions. For instance, at my current employer, I have to log in to my computer at my desk using a password that is comprised of eight characters, and it must also include letters, numbers, special characters and at least one upper case letter.

    Complex enough? Well, for me it is. I have a hard time keeping track of all the passwords and find it counter intuitive to put them in a single app that might be susceptible to the same kind of digital theft that any other data out there is. So what do I do instead?

    Without revealing too many secrets, I keep it simple. I use the easiest and most intuitive key strokes to develop my latest password. But, I guess it isn’t enough. I have to do this every quarter and reinvent a new set of strokes that no one else in their right mind may be able to figure out.

    I’ve been at my current role for a year, or four quarters, and I’ve had to do this four times already! Each time I do it, I think “Ah, easy enough; I can reinvent a password or maybe even use an old one and it should all be fine.” But no, the password gods at my firm will not have that.

    Not only does the password have to be a new combination of letters, numbers, special characters, and one upper case letter, but it also has to be distinct — so distinct that it shouldn’t have been repeated for the last 24 times! Yes, you read correct… 24!!! Not 2, not 4, but 24 times!

    I am busy enough that there are days when I can barely remember what I ate for lunch; how am I expected to remember or not remember my last 24 passwords? Surely if I last in this role for more than a couple of years, I’m going to have to start getting more creative. Do you think I am some creative wizard or some genius that can invent new keystrokes and passwords that no one else can decipher. Every three months, never to have been repeated for the last 24 times or eight quarters in this case?

    Surely I want my data to be safe and secure. And yes, I am willing to take the necessary steps to ensure that it is. But somehow, going through this level of absurdity and to these extremes just doesn’t give me the level of confidence that it will indeed be.

    If anything it makes me worried that I may forget my own password and not be able to login anymore! But then again, we live in a world filled with hyperbole and paranoia, so why not extend that to our data protection too? If nothing else, it at least keeps our memory sharp.

  • Minecraft role for British Museum
    The building and contents of the British Museum in London are to be digitally recreated in the video game Minecraft, with volunteers sought to help.
  • Ex-Employees Say Home Depot Left Data Vulnerable
    The risks were clear to computer experts inside Home Depot: The home improvement chain, they warned for years, might be easy prey for hackers.
  • This Kids' Movie Makes 'Transformers' Look Like Child's Play
    “It definitely feels like an odd choice when everything is going electric for someone to stick with a cart and a buggy.”

    Stop-motion animation is such a labor-intensive process that it almost seems masochistic. The method is daunting: Every figure needs to be manually adjusted for each frame, of which there are 24 each second, 1440 each minute. Never mind that computer generation can do anything stop-motion can … and better, in much less time. Yet, while CG is inarguably the major reason for the fall of stop-motion, its biggest proponents are now using the so-called “author of their demise” to save the beloved medium.

    Although stop-motion has been around nearly since the dawn of film, the process hasn’t changed much since its inception. Today’s stop-motion animators are going through steps similar to those followed by George Melies in order to send men to the moon in 1902: the figures and set are designed, sculpted (most often out of clay) and manipulated by hand.

    Since it began its sharpest decline in the early 1990s, that lack of adaptation has been a reality of which the industry is all too aware. As anecdote would have it: Steven Spielberg hired the renowned stop-motion animator Phil Tippett for work on the dinosaurs in “Jurassic Park” (1993), eventually bringing on CG expert in favor of stop-motion. When Spielberg told him that he’d been replaced, he said, “No, I’ve gone extinct.”

    “For people who loved and were practitioners of stop motion in the ’90s, that’s kind of how we felt,” said Travis Knight, producer and lead animator on “The Boxtrolls.” “Everything was shifting over to the computer and so it definitely feels like an odd choice when everything is going electric for someone to stick with a cart and a buggy.”

    For Knight, like many proponents he mentions, he was passionate about stop-motion, but he understood that he couldn’t be complacent about its path to endangerment. Teaming up with Laika animation studios, he became part of a process that has begun to define stop-motion as more than the “herky jerky” experience it had come to represent.


    Laika is best known for “Coraline” (2009), for which Knight won an Academy Award. Their most recent feature, “The Boxtrolls,” is the most highly developed use of stop-motion to date. Although, that’s not to say it wasn’t labor intensive.

    “I’m sure most career advisors don’t list miniature sofa upholsterer as a job.”

    Isaac Hempstead Wright (who voices the lead role of Eggs) was impressed with just how much work went into every detail still being set in place when he came on after the film had been in development for over seven years.

    “I’m sure most career advisors don’t list miniature sofa upholsterer as a job,” Wright said. “On set, there were people upholstering sofas or creating mini furniture or mini cabbages for the garden. The detail of the work is unbelievable.”

    The extensive preparation “The Boxtrolls” required was largely centered around figuring out how time filming would be spent. The most difficult part of this period included planning out a ballroom dancing scene.

    Directors Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable remembered discussing the sequence and meeting resistance from a room of overeager draftsmen. “The room went totally silent,” Stacchi said. “It was like: there’s no way we can do this.” It turned out there was a way, but it took over 18 months to execute.”

    One of the draftsmen, Emanuela Cosi, studied every instance of the waltz on film and drew out hard sketches so that animators could better understand the dancers’ movements. Then a composer, Dario Marinelli, was brought on in order to write the piece of music the waltz would be set to. From there, Stacchi and Annable took Cosi’s sketches and Marinelli’s music to a group of local choreographers who danced through the entire sequence and had it filmed in every direction for reference. With that in mind, the sculptors reformatted the armatures in the women’s dresses, so that they could move up and down through the steps. All of this was mere anticipatory work for the actual filming process. The final cut of the scene was two minutes long.

    At it’s core, much of the process is still the same, though CG has made an incredible difference when it comes to smoothing out the image and eliminating the most impractical aspects of frame-by-frame manipulation.

    Knight estimates that Eggs has 1.4 million facial expressions over the course of “The Boxtrolls,” a number that would have been impossible to achieve, even if it was something that could be done with precision. “You could never get the changes between expressions as subtle as you like doing it by hand,” he said. “So we turned to rapid prototype printing to take the place of sculpting every individual face.”

    The use of CG also allowed “The Boxtrolls” (and “Coraline” before it) a certain clarity as well or, as Stacchi put it, “made the image more fantastic.” It’s true, but returns us to the question of why one would choose to use stop-motion in the first place. Couldn’t you just get that more fantastic image in less than half the time using CG?

    “There’s something you get out of the hand-crafted quality of stop motion,” Annable said. “It’s real life landing on real fabrics. Deep in the DNA of everybody there is the memory of having played with toys or trucks or model trains and I think stop-motion gets right into people’s subconscious. It’s like a dream world that you just don’t get with hand drawn animation which has an appeal of its own, graphic things coming alive and living.”


    ” If under all the fancy tools, you don’t have anything there, it’s all just an empty experience.”

    There is something special about it, a tangibility to the texture that rests in the fact that it is, in a way, real. Everything you see on screen exists somewhere (in Laika’s studios, to be specific). A tiny Eggs exists, as well as a tiny box trolls family and the even tinier bugs they eat throughout the movie. They have all been built by hand, and that allows them a visceral quality that renders something different than the bigger-means-better push of CG.

    Since it is based on a children’s book (Alan Snow’s “Here Be Monsters”), “The Boxtrolls is an especially good fit for stop-motion, because it begs the magical feel of a fairy tale coming to life. But Knight believes any story could be told through the process.

    “At it’s core, what you’re looking at is a physical thing that was shot on a set with a real life camera being brought to life by the hands of an animator,” Stacchi said.

    And maybe part of the appeal is in something so painstakingly detailed, but also refreshingly small. “I think it’s rarer and rarer to go to the movie theater now where everything isn’t just louder and bigger. It can get bigger and bigger and bigger, but in the end, a lot of the stuff just ends up being hollow,” Stacchi said. “Directors have to figure out what they’re trying to do with this stuff.”

    Stacchi, like Knight, understands that stop-motion will never be the “queen of the realm,” like CG, but he hopes it will continue to prosper, despite the fact that modern technology has moved so far past Melies and his trip into outer space.

    “Stop-motion has its limitations, but I also think the process elicits something at the other end that has this quality of warmth, charm and beauty that’s unlike anything else,” Stacchi said. “So, that’s why we focus on that bit of film making, despite the fact that it’s so damn hard.”

  • Mysterious Fireball Spotted Over The Rockies Was Actually A Russian Spy Satellite, Experts Say
    A mysterious fireball that was spotted moving across the night sky and breaking apart above the Rocky Mountains earlier this month left observers totally baffled.

    Some speculated that the blazing object may have been pieces from a meteor or other celestial body, but the science just didn’t seem to add up. If it was indeed a meteor, it would have burned too quickly and wouldn’t have been seen across such a large area, according to the American Meteor Society.

    So what exactly was this fiery object?

    Military experts say the so-called “fireball” — which was spotted in the skies at around 10:30 p.m. MDT on Sept. 2 over Colorado and Wyoming, and possibly as far as New Mexico, South Dakota and Montana — was likely a piece of a Russian spy satellite that fell from orbit.

    Charles Vick, an aerospace analyst with the military information website Globalsecurity.org, told the Associated Press that it was probably debris from Russia’s Cosmos 2495 reconnaissance satellite.

    Fireball over Rockies was Russian spy satellite, experts say http://t.co/YCsEJjcdNr pic.twitter.com/6BeBjpqXKM

    — CBC News (@CBCNews) September 18, 2014

    Cosmos 2495 was a photoreconnaissance satellite designed to take high-resolution images of ground targets, according to Spaceflight101.com. It was reportedly launched in May.

    The U.S. Strategic Command, a branch of the Department of Defense, confirmed that the satellite re-entered Earth’s atmosphere and was removed from their catalog of orbiting satellites in September.

    The Russian Defense Ministry has denied any connection with the fireball. Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov says Russia’s military satellites have all been operating normally.

    “One can only guess what condition the representatives of the so-called American Meteor Society must be in to have identified a [fireball] at that high altitude as a Russian military satellite,” he told RIA Novosti.

    There are an estimated 98 operating spy satellites currently in orbit, the AP reports. Of these, almost 40 are said to be from the U.S. and just three are from Russia.

  • SpaceX Launches 3-D Printer, Mice Into Space

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) — A SpaceX cargo ship rocketed toward the International Space Station on Sunday, carrying the first 3-D printer for astronauts in orbit.

    In all, the unmanned Dragon capsule is delivering more than 5,000 pounds (2,270 kilograms) of space station supplies for NASA.

    Dragon should reach the space station Tuesday. It’s the fifth station shipment for the California-based SpaceX, one of two new commercial winners in the race to start launching Americans again from home soil.

    The space station was soaring over the South Pacific when the SpaceX Falcon 9 thundered into Florida’s pre-dawn sky. Sunday’s weather was ideal for flying, unlike Saturday, when rain forced a delay. The rocket was visible for nearly three minutes as it sped out over the Atlantic, with the Orion constellation as a backdrop.

    “What a beautiful morning it was,” said Sam Scimemi, NASA’s space station division director.

    Sunday was a red-letter day for NASA in more ways than one.

    Besides the flawless launch, the space agency’s Maven spacecraft was on the verge of reaching Mars. The robotic explorer was scheduled to go into orbit around Mars late Sunday night.

    The space station-bound 3-D printer was developed by Made in Space, another California company. It’s sturdier than Earthly models to withstand the stresses of launch, and meets NASA’s strict safety standards. The space agency envisions astronauts one day cranking out spare parts as needed. For now, it’s a technology demonstrator, with a bigger and better model to follow next year.

    A $30 million device for measuring ocean winds is also flying up on Dragon, along with 20 mice and 30 fruit flies for biological research and metal samples for a golf club manufacturer looking to improve its products.

    Much-needed spacesuit batteries are on board as well, along with the usual stash of food, clothes and electronic gear. Routine U.S. spacewalks were put on hold following last year’s close call with an astronaut’s flooded helmet. That problem was solved, then the battery fuses were called into question. NASA hopes to resume spacewalks next month.

    NASA is paying SpaceX and Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp. to make regular station deliveries. The SpaceX service began two years ago.

    Just this past week, SpaceX — led by billionaire Elon Musk — won an even bigger and more prestigious contract to transport U.S. astronauts to the orbiting outpost, along with Boeing. Dragon rides could begin as early as 2016 or 2017.

    NASA’s ability to launch its own crews ended with the shuttle program in 2011. Russia has been providing rides on its Soyuz spacecraft for a hefty price.

    Another American astronaut is scheduled to blast off from Kazakhstan aboard a Russian Soyuz craft later this week, along with two Russians, one of them a woman, a rarity for Russia. They will join the one American, one Russian and one German already in orbit.

    SpaceX was delighted with Sunday’s success and the road ahead, and could hardly wait for the party to begin.

    “Nothing like a good launch,” observed Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of mission assurance for SpaceX. “It’s just fantastic.”



    SpaceX: http://www.spacex.com/

    NASA: htttp://www.nasa.gov

    Made in Space: http://www.madeinspace.us/

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